The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game where players bet in rounds and the player with the best five-card hand wins. There are countless variants of poker but most share similar fundamentals. The basic concept is that the value of a poker hand increases in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency, or more simply, the less often a poker hand appears, the higher its ranking.

In a standard game of poker each player begins with two cards. Each player then has the choice to call a bet made by the players to his or her left, raise that bet, or fold. Each raised bet must be matched by one or more players (unless the player raising has a superior hand, which no other player calls).

After a few betting rounds the dealer puts a fifth card on the table, called the “river”; this is community cards that everyone can use to make their best five-card poker hand. Once again each player gets the opportunity to check, raise, or fold.

A strong poker hand consists of a pair, three of a kind, four of a kind, or straight. Pair is two matching cards of the same rank, three of a kind is 3 cards of the same rank in sequence, and a straight is 5 consecutive cards of the same suit. A flush is five cards of the same rank. It is not uncommon for a player to hold both an ace and a king in his or her hand, which can be a particularly powerful combination.